Ebola virus and the marine industry

Feb 20, 2015 11:40:00 AM



Ebola emerged in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The present outbreak has struck Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There is no cure and treatment largely consists of mitigating the symptoms. The mortality rate is between 50 and 60%, but can be much higher if proper care is not available.  The disease enters the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected primates (chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys), fruit bats, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead, and the consumption of “bush-meat”.


It then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact, through broken skin or mucous membranes, with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery from illness.


The three major shipping organisations (ICS, IMEC, and ITWF) have issued the following advice for all vessels calling at the ports of affected countries or boarding crew who have recently travelled from or through affected countries (currently Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria) 


·         The Master should ensure that the crew (and passengers) are made aware of the risks, how the virus can be spread and how to reduce the risk of transmission.

----------The ISPS requirements on ensuring that unauthorised personnel do not board the vessel should be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the vessel being in port.

----------The Master should give careful consideration to granting any shore leave whilst in the ports of affected countries.

----------The shipowner/operator should avoid making crew changes in the ports of an affected country.

----------The crew should be made aware of the symptoms and report any occurring symptoms immediately to the person in charge of medical care or their supervisor.

----------The advice is supplemented with information from the World Health Organization on EVD.  See the following link:


In addition, CTI Marine Services Division, suggest that:

----------Proper hand washing is practiced by all persons on board before eating or drinking, after going to the toilet, etc.

----------Avoid touching eyes, nose, ears, and mouth especially whilst travelling or visiting public places.

----------Maintain a personal distance of at least 1m between yourself and any person showing symptoms of illness.

----------Stay away from your workplace, public areas, hospitals, etc when you are experiencing any symptoms of illness.  Report immediately any symptoms of illness such as sore throat, fever, aching muscles, weakness, vomiting or diarrhoea to your nearest medical facility or supervisor.
----------Practice safe sex at all times.  Do not share needles with other people.


CTI Marine Services Public Health Consultant commissioned to conduct Desktop Risk Assessment for gold mine project in West African country

In light of the emerging EVD outbreak in neighbouring West African countries, one of  CTI Marine Services’ Public Health Consultants was contacted to carry out a rapid desktop study and risk assessment for a gold mine development project.  Although the mine is situated in a country not affected by EVD, the mining company felt that under its duty of care responsibilities to mine employees, contractors, local workers and the neighbouring community, it should make an assessment of the risks present for EVD transmission and development of an outbreak at the mine.  As a result of the study, procedures and standards were developed for prevention of exposure and transmission of EVD as well as infection control at the mine site and for any persons visiting the mine.

Subsequently, our Consultant has been retained to conduct an audit at the site to ensure that the proposed measures, procedures and standards have been implemented.


CTI Marine Services personnel are available to advise, audit and issue certificates of compliance for a wide variety of public health risks related to illnesses arising from exposure to asbestos, Influenza A virus, Legionella bacteria, Norovirus, contaminated drinking water, etc in marine and land based situations.


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